It takes a special kind of family to turn sadness into light – and break a world record in the process. 

David and Janean Richards, with the help of their children, friends, family and volunteers are doing just that in the Canberra suburb of Forrest.

The display of more than half a million light bulbs has scored them a second listing in the Guinness Book of World Records.

“We first obtained the Guinness World Record for the most Christmas lights in 2011, then in 2012 the Gay family in New York won it off us,” David said.

The Richards decided to try for another World Record as a way of raising awareness, and funds, for SIDS and Kids.

During a week in the October school holidays the Richards, along with family, friends and volunteers, erected a massive display of more than 50 km of light cables.

The result is a magical tunnel of lights sparkling in time with music. David estimates that the lights will receive 80,000 visitors before Boxing Day.

“We are collecting money at the gate, volunteers from SIDS and Kids are selling Rudolph noses and Christmas cards, and there’s a raffle and a sausage sizzle,” David said. Coca-Cola donated 40 cases of drinks for the spectators. 

“It’s wonderful to watch people’s faces as they walk through, and then at the end you see the kids cry because they don’t want to leave.”

David and Janean became involved with SIDs and Kids in 2000 when they lost baby Thomas to sudden infant death syndrome.

“It is a wonderful charity, and the volunteers that work there look after people when they are their absolute lowest,” David said.

“If we can help by raising some money to keep their good work going it’s the least we can do.”

Although David said he is unlikely to put up the lights again in 2014, he might consider doing it all again in 2015.

“It takes about six days to take the whole thing down, and then I sleep for about three days,” David says. “It’s all a bit exhausting, but it’s worth it.”

Lighting by numbers

2 – number of times the Richards family has scored the Guinness World Record for the number of Christmas lights on a family home

532 – number of extension cords used for the display in 2013

780,000 – number of hits to the ITN video of the display on youtube

12 – number of family and friends who helped erect the display

80,000 – number of people expected to visit the display in 2013

502,165 – number of light bulbs in the display

2 – number of kilometres of steel cable

50 – number of kilometres of light cables used in the display

6 – number of days it will take to remove the lights

3 – number of days sleep David will need when it’s all over

Click here to make a donation to SIDS and Kids.